Wednesday - 31 . December . 2008
Had our breakfast at the hotel.
They usually eat very less for breakfast.
I have a big stomach!
There's a bar beside the restaurant.
The view from our hotel's restaurant.
The Bank of China is highest building (on the left) in Zhaoqing.
We missed the food festival!
We're going to explore Seven Star Crags.
The Seven Star Crags (七星岩), are located at the fringe of Zhaoqing (肇慶) by the Star Lake National Park (星湖風景名勝區) and form one of the most scenic places in Guangdong Province, in South China. Visiting the Seven Star Crags, you would be able to discover its natural wonders such as its magical crags, steep rocks and intriguing caves. I really enjoyed exploring the park and had an unforgettable experience with Jodie and Sum. We walked around for about five hours and saw maybe half of it.
It was a long walking day like yesterday.
Those fishes are really big.
Across the lake from the town, we paid RMB 50 to get into the Star Lake National Park (星湖風景名勝區). We walked through a long bridge to the Seven Star Crags park and passed a small pavilion along the way. We saw couples of people in a very small canoe style boats collecting fishes by the traditional way of fishery.
The Star Lake of Zhaoqing.
The smaller scale version of the classic scenery of Guilin.
There is plenty of hiking, cave exploring and navigation of underground rivers by boat. It is a national park and does receive a large number of tourists, but definitely worth a day to scope out. These scenic areas are refreshing destinations in fast moving cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Seven Star Crags is a good way to see the natural smaller scale version of the classic scenery of Guilin though. (We wished to visit Guilin actually.)
This lake is basically surrounded by caves.
The limestone crags are naturally arranged in the same formation as the seven stars of the Northern Dipper (北斗七星). Legend has it that the pillars of limestone grew from stars that fell from the skies. It's the first wetlands of China and has been designated a national park.
On the way to the top.
Hardly we could see the downtown clearly.
We then followed a trail of steps leads up to the top of Tianzhu Crag (天柱岩). The trail has been concerted over and in most parts, especially where there is a steep drop down on the side there are handrails. Most of the path was fairly wide, but in a couple of places we need to go through a small cutting in the rock and narrow stairway. On the half way up, there has a temple carved into the rock and a convenience store selling souvenirs.
Thanks for the handrails!
We were almost on the top.
The pavilion on the peak.
The views from the top were superb, marred only by the smog like haze that engulfs the whole area, nonetheless, it was another great view to me, at least. A small pavilion is perched on top of the crag, providing a perfect place to rest while admiring the view of the park. A splash of breathtaking scenery caught my eyes from the left to right. It certainly well worth hiking up for the scenery.
The awesome rock formation on the peak.
We had a short rest inside the pavilion.
We took pictures at different compass point on the peak.
The lush of greenery on the other side of the peak.
The view of other the crags from the other side.
Another view of crags, lake, bridge, pavilion and in the distance mountains.
As if i was looking at the nature from the heaven.
Look! Couldn't believe, we had the same expression.
Abandoning our first route back down as it was a very narrow and steep path, we retraced our steps and wound our way back down the hill. The path out of the caves took us to the other side of the island.
We gotta go down for other attractions.
This stairway was damn narrow.
We found a good place to take pictures!
The face showed FuFu was not willing to leave the peak.
Wonder it is naturally or purposely made.
The steep stair steps.
Wow, this picture was absolutely nice!
I then walked to the pond we had seen from the top of the peak with the enormous carps while having toilet break. People were feeding them and it looked like the fish were climbing over each other to get at the food.
The tastefully illuminated limestone crags.
Each caves has its own different characteristics. Some are deep, tortuous and pitch dark while some brightly lit up with their entrances. Among them, we went in Longyan Cave(龍岩洞) and Bixia Cave (碧霞洞).Though the ticket does not cover for the entrance to the caves, the extra RMB 10 was worth for the decorated limestone of various shapes lit up with bizzare rainbow coloured lights. Visitors are advised to visit the cave scenery in a boat as the walking route is not that attractive.
Surprisingly, as we went further into the cave it got warmer and muggier.
Apparently it is warm in the winter but cold in the summer.
A walk path, lined with decorative palm trees, leads you passed more illuminated rock formations and guided us to the Cave of Thousand Poems. The cave is large and is open to the elements but it has been turned into a big book. The walls are covered with different tablets of Chinese script of the poets over the hundreds of years.
Cave of Thousand Poems.
The calligraphy written on the cave was repainted for us to read.
The Five Dragons Pavilion.
The Five Dragons Pavilion (五龍亭) is a central two-storey pagoda with four smaller ones at each compass point, all built on stilts into the water. A large part of the waterway was clogged with water lilies but unfortunately not in bloom on the last day of the year.
The famous pavilions on the lake.
The view was pretty beautiful.
We camwhored again.
No kidding, i really thought of staying there for a night.
The pavilion with the zigzag bridge.
We purposely walk to the opposite of the lake.
Just to take the pictures with the Five Dragons Palace.
The word of Seven Star Crags written on one of the caves.
We decided to leave for lunch after five hours of walking.
We came out from the east entrance.
East entrance of the park is a residential area actually. It was good as i could see the lifestyle of the local there. After a quick shooting we hopped a bus back to the hubbub of Zhaoqing.
The grocery shop.
The local's motorcycle-taxi.
'Ops, i wanna eat dog here!'. 'No, we gotta go back to downtown'.
Apart of the Seven Star Crags, Zhaoqing also famous for its glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in lotus leaves that called 'Guo Jing Zong' (裹蒸粽). People say that you are not counted as having been to Zhaoqing if you have not tasted the well-known 'Guo Jing Zong' there.
The famous glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in lotus leaves.
The closed-up of it (sold from other restaurant).
Where we had our late lunch.
The cases of the sauces chopsticks and the tea pot are so cute.
Huuh huuh, our favourite fried dumpling.
The beef noodle if i don't remember wrongly.
The yummy spare ribs congee.
The must-try glutinous rice dumpling!
The taste is slightly different with our bakzhang.
We had a great meal.
The motorcycle taxi-driver sending short messages.
The street cleaner??
The tricycle is to carry stuff not people.
Waiting bus in front of the Star Lake Mall.
Our next target - Mei An.
Mei An (梅庵) is the most famous Chan temple in Zhaoqing. It was built in 996 during the Song Dynasty to commemorate the 6th Patriarch Huineng (佛教禅宗六祖惠能). Legend has it that Huineng has a great fondness for plum trees and he planted one sapling here on top of this molehill. Thus this temple is named Mei (plum) An.
The main entrance of the temple.
Dang, it closed at 5pm. We couldn't get in.
As it was still light, we decided to head down to see the only remaining complete ancient Old City Walls (古城墙) which are over 800 years old with a restored temple. These must have been about ten or fifteen metres high and were very thick and solid. Again we were late to visit this. We just walked a little way along the walls and then headed back into town.
The pagoda on the old city wall.
Dang, the old city wall was closed for visitation too!
Shengji Restaurant (勝記菜館).
For dinner, we went to the city's most renowned local restaurant. On our way into the restaurant, they had pictures on the wall of some of the dishes and it was fully seated with people, so very smugly we looked forward to a good meal. However, the taste was way too common for the three gourmands who had been eating from Guangzhou to Foshan then Zhaoqing. The price was reasonable though.
The sweet and sour spare ribs (甜酸排骨).
Steamed pork with taro (芋頭扣肉)
Sai Yong Choi Soup (西洋菜上湯).
The chicken with its head attached (醤油雞).
FuFu special rice (白飯一點紅)
After dinner, we walked around the downtown and shopping mall as it was still early for the countdown. We even went to a cybercafe to kill an hour before really rushing for the countdown with the local.
The centre of Times Square.
Kids learning roller skating in the shopping mall.
This tells us that roller skating is quite popular in Zhaoqing.
Everyone was heading to the square in front of the lake.
The road was occupied by teenagers.
It was damn crowded in front of Times Square as well.
That was my very first time to countdown for the new year in China. It was totally out of what i had imagined. I was so surprised to see the countdown that was so organised with the civilised teenagers although it was extremely crowded until we couldn't really move our body. Five, four, three, two, one, everyone shouted out 'Happy New Year' loudly and joyfully despite no gorgeous fireworks come along.
Happy New Year (新年快樂).
I did not know whether Zhaoqing is famous for oyster or not but i saw bunch of people having it since last night. Thus we entered the restaurant for our supper in the early morning on the first day of 2009.
The oyster restaurant (程村蠔城).
Jodie wishes everything will be fine to her.
New Year wish = money, money and money.
In 2009, FuFu wants healthy, studies and career.
Cheers, 乾杯, かんぱい, Yum Xing (飲勝).
The yummy sweet steamed oyster.
The salty grilled oyster with sauce and garlic.
The oily fried noodle with beef.
Ouch - we dipped oyster with wasabi and soy sauce.
Phew, first meal of the first day of the year!
Happy new year. Friendships forever.
The happy moment we had on the first day in 2009.
Wish all of us have a blessing year of 2009.